By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Stan Tucker debuted his first book, “Stan and the Man,” at Ruth Hill Elementary School Friday, where students were the first to hear a reading of the children’s story about his late father.
But Tucker – founder of Leap for Literacy, a nonprofit that addresses the lack of access to printed materials in at-risk communities – didn’t just read his own book aloud to the students. Tucker also provided each with materials to help them write and illustrate their own stories and a checklist for accomplishing their goal of becoming authors.
And for extra motivation, Tucker had another surprise: He is going to publish one Ruth Hill student’s story.
“I am going to choose one friend’s book to publish professionally and illustrate it,” Tucker told the students. “I’m going to make it all fancy like my book, ‘Stan and the Man,’ and you will have a fancy book of your own.”
Tucker set a deadline of Oct. 1 for the students to turn in their books so he can collect them. He cautioned the aspiring authors against waiting to get started.
“You can’t be a lazy lizard,” he said. “Do you know what a lazy lizard is? A lazy lizard procrastinates. He takes his time and says, ‘I’ll start on this tomorrow. I’ll start on this next week.’ I don’t need any lazy lizards in here. When you get your book, get your sheet and begin to get your ideas together. Brainstorm what you will write.”
Tucker also brought a special guest to Ruth Hill – his mom, Eva, who was celebrating her birthday. Her son gave her another reason to celebrate as he brought her up and dedicated his book to her in front of the Ruth Hill students, faculty and guests.
“For my mom, Eva, the most kind, most selfless, most dependable, most hard working, most faithful human I know…all at no charge,” Tucker read to her from the dedication page of his book, before leading the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday to You.”
Tucker ended his visit by encouraging students to make good decisions as they move forward.
“Every day of your life, you are building your story,” he said. “Are you making others proud with the choices and decisions that you’re making? Are you making yourself proud with the choices and decisions that you’re making?
“You want to make good choices, because guess what?” he added. “Every good choice you make defines who you are and who you will be. So as you leave this gym today, I want you to think about the story that you want to live.”